Our guest speaker for the ECIDC Annual Meeting was Ed Morrison, an ED guru who is the founder of I-Open, publisher of EDPro weblog and policy advisor to the Purdue Center for Regional Development. A small group of us met with him in the afternoon before his talk where we discussed a number of ED issues with plans to begin “strategic doing” rather than just strategic planning.
He spoke of the need to stop the alarming increase in high school dropouts, citing that their lifetime earnings are $300,000 below someone with a high school degree. Unfortunately, even those with high school degrees aren’t necessarily going to be climbing the economic ladder but those without some basic skills learned in high school are really going to behind the eight ball for the rest of their life.
Ed showed a graphic of today’s economy, with 60% of the jobs above a very basic $10/hour level. However, he also showed that 60 to 70% of the candidates that we are putting into the labor market today are below that line in skills that are needed. That gap is alarming and growing.
My biggest concern from travelling around the country is the number of people that are reaching adulthood without absolutely necessary life-time skills. There appear to be plenty of jobs for those who have these skills but a shrinking number of jobs that qualify for those without such skills. Are you doing anything to turn this gap around in your community?